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BASW: Response to Queen’s speech: The government must get in the room with social work’s professional body to shape change

In a response to the Queen’s speech which pledged reform for social work services in adoption, greater support for children in care and improvements in social work standards, including a new specialist regulator, BASW has called for the profession to take a leading role in shaping change. BASW is asking all social workers, members and non-members, to share their views on reform with BASW. These views will inform representations to government and the development of the Association’s own proposals for continuing professional development and improvements across the sector.

Commenting on the reforms outlined in the Queen’s Speech, Dr Ruth Allen, Chief Executive of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) said: “In order to create the ‘cultural change’ Government is seeking, it has to reach out to the profession. Government reforms need to be driven by social worker knowledge and skills. The further development of social work and public confidence in social workers can only be achieved through the profession shaping change and leading on its own excellent practice. No profession can be created by government; it must be owned and developed from evidence, ethics and the reality of day to day practice. As the professional body representing social work across the UK, BASW and its members expect to be fully part of policy proposals and reform.

“The focus of any reform from government must be to support the profession to own and lead change for the benefit of those we serve. We already have excellent social workers in the profession and their views must be taken on board. Training courses are producing well skilled and ambitious new social workers. The junior doctors dispute should be used an example of both the need to involve professionals in management of change and also of potential impact to both services and people if communication breaks down.

“The profession needs to have a serious discussion about reform and we want to see a change in approach from the Government. We want to see an end to unsubstantiated criticism of social workers and their professionalism in the media which harms morale and ultimately harms services. We need an honest conversation with Government about their plans for reform. There is currently a lot of discussion in social care about ‘co-production’ as a key concept in the development of public services, when services work together with people who use services and carers to harness the expertise of all. We need a similar approach between Government and professionals such as social workers. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with ministers to start these discussions”.

The latest Adoption reforms from Government are being proposed in a context of a wider strategy to ‘radically reform’ the children’s social care system. The Government’s mission is detailed in two policy papers, Children’s social care reform: a vision for change (January 2016) and Adoption: A vision for Change (March 2016). The reforms are structured around three areas: people and leadership; practice and systems; and governance and accountability. Adoption reforms are proposed in a context of wider children’s social care reforms.

To share your views on social work reform, please email

Click HERE to read BASW's response to the PM's comments on adoption reform

Click HERE to view the Children and Social Work Bill

Click HERE to read Briefing – Forthcoming Children and Social Work Bill document